The United States is rushing to send a large floating base to the Middle East in
the face of rising tensions with Iran, al- Qaida in Yemen and Somali pirates,
The Washington Post reported Friday.
The Pentagon is converting an aging
amphibious transport dock, the USS Ponce, which had been previously slated for
decommission, into a staging base for commando teams.
The report stated
that the floating base could potentially provide shelter for smaller speed boats
and helicopters, and could also be used as a base for mine-clearing
One of the main advantages of a floating base is that it can
stay stationary for months, providing definite and continuous shelter for
military personnel in the area. Other vessels usually patrol and change
locations on a regular basis.
The report quoted US Navy officials as
stating that the floating base, nicknamed the “mothership,” was being rushed in
order to depart by early summer. It also cited navy documents as indicating that
the it could be sent to the Persian Gulf, an area that has been hotly contested
following Iranian threats to close the Strait of Hormuz to crucial international
Linking the Persian Gulf with the Indian Ocean, the Strait is
used to transport about a fifth of the world’s oil on a daily basis, and the
popular assessment within the IDF is that Iran – which borders the channel to
the north and east – has the ability to shut it down if it so chooses.
Reuters contributed to this article.